BEIJING, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- A vessel loaded with nickel matte docked at the Qinzhou Port in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region at 10 a.m., and merely four hours later, the nickel product imported from Indonesia was delivered to a nearby factory's production line for further processing.
Located in the Beibu Gulf, Qinzhou Port is an important hub for trade and economic exchanges between China and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and a part of the China (Guangxi) Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ).
"The remarkable efficiency in the FTZ is an important reason why we located our project here," said Yuan Xun, manager assistant of the Guangxi CNGR New Energy Science and Technology Co., Ltd., the importer of the nickel matte.
Yuan said their parent company, CNGR Advanced Material Co., Ltd., has invested in multiple projects in Indonesia for nickel mining and nickel matte processing, which not only extended the nickel industry chain, but also provided some 2,000 jobs there.
The nickel matte produced in Indonesia is shipped to Qinzhou to be further processed into materials needed to produce batteries for electric vehicles and other products like mobile phones.
Lower logistic and tax costs, easier applications for administrative approvals and simpler customs clearance procedures are among the beneficial factors they have enjoyed in the FTZ, said Yuan, adding that construction of the first stage of the company with an investment of 10 billion yuan (about 1.4 billion U.S. dollars) only took 255 days before it was ready to start operation.
Since the establishment of its first pilot FTZ in Shanghai in September 2013, China has established an additional 20 FTZs and the Hainan Free Trade Port.
With pilot measures for investment and trade facilitation, governance innovation, financial opening-up innovation and high-quality development of industries, the FTZs, especially those in the southern part of China, have not only become engines for local high-quality development but also boosted regional development in the neighboring Southeast Asia.
In the Chongzuo area of the Guangxi FTZ, which borders Vietnam, Lam Thich Tuong runs a redwood craftwork business in the border city of Pingxiang.
A former craftswoman in a redwood factory in Vietnam, the Vietnamese businessperson from Hanoi has designed all the craftworks in her workshop.
"The frontier trade allows us to import timber from Vietnam quickly and at low cost, and our products are very popular in the Chinese market. That's why my husband and I decided to locate our business here," she said.
As a region in China connected with ASEAN both by land and sea, Guangxi is China's gateway to ASEAN and has built closer economic ties with ASEAN countries, and the FTZ has injected vitality into the region's foreign trade.
In the first half of 2023, trade between Guangxi and ASEAN, its largest trading partner, amounted to 161.38 billion yuan, a whopping 92.6 percent growth year on year, accounting for 47.6 percent of Guangxi's total import and export value during the period, according to local authorities.
Following the inauguration of the Guangxi FTZ in 2019, Shenghetang, a herbal jelly producer based in south China's Guangdong Province, set up a factory later in the same year in the Chongzuo area of the Guangxi FTZ.
Supported by relevant policies and the innovative measures of the FTZ, the factory signed an agreement with a local cooperative consisting of border residents, entrusting the cooperative to purchase mesona chinensis benth -- an ingredient to produce herbal jelly -- from Vietnam through frontier trade.
Under the frontier trade policy, residents of a border area can trade 8,000 yuan of goods per person without any tariffs every day.
"The mesona chinensis benth grown in Vietnam is supreme in quality, and the factory-cooperative cooperation has not only lowered our costs in purchasing the materials, but also helped secure more income for local border residents," said Hu Jianhong, general manager of Guangxi Shenghetang Health Food Co., Ltd.
Yunnan Province shares borders with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, making it another natural trading and access point between China and ASEAN nations.
At the Kunming cargo terminal of China United International Rail Containers Co., Ltd. (CRIntermodal) in the Yunnan FTZ, tropical fruits from Southeast Asia, such as durians and longans, have arrived via the China-Laos Railway.
Taking only 26 hours to complete the trip from the Laotian capital Vientiane to Kunming, the fruits will be further distributed and sold in other parts of China.
As of Aug. 31 this year, this railway line, which started operation in December 2021, had sent more than 224,000 tonnes of cargo to Laos and received 312,600 tonnes from Laos via the Kunming terminal.
"Compared with road and sea transport, rail transport is cheaper and faster," said Xu Chao, deputy manager of the CRIntermodal Kunming branch.